Today at the State Capitol, non profit Minnesota Second Chance Coalition with Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota held “Day on the Hill Legislative Visit Training.” They are getting their supporters ready for “Second Chance Day on the Hill 2011,” which will be held on January 26th.The event’s brings out hundreds of concerned Minnesotans each year and is one of the largest events at the Capitol. The Coalition works directly with individuals who have committed crimes, to re-establish themselves within society. They currently work together with fifty other organizations to advocate for fair legislation, which will allow individuals with troubled pasts to obtain jobs and support their families.
The event was attended by supporters of justice reform, which included ex-offenders with their families. The training is geared towards helping individuals meet with legislators. By meeting directly with legislators, ex-offenders or family members of ex-offenders, will be able to share their stories. This will give them an opportunity to advocate for policy changes that will allow ex-offenders to move forward in life.
The Coalition, consist of volunteers that operate with funds obtained through donations and a yearly state grant of $10,000. Their work requires a hands on approach of community planning/organizing, policy research, and educating the public. The volunteers are also involved with lobbying, which requires them to have strong advocacy skills.
The Coalition has effectively obtained policy change by increasing awareness and visibility of second chance issues on local and national levels. A major policy that they helped establish is the “Ban the Box” bill, which requires public employers to conduct criminal back ground checks after someone has been selected for the job. Minnesota was the first state to pass a bill of this nature. The Coalition is also responsible for pioneering the “Safe Hiring Act” and the “Higher Education Notice Act.”.